Cheese on toast

Started in captioning this week. My internal monologue is now in a monotone, and I have started to think in short, concise sentences. With punctuation full stop. After four days working with voice dictation software, typing now seems very slow and error-prone.

Bicycle commuting is going well so far. I haven’t been rained on yet, nor have I fallen off, nor been accosted by axe murderers (or worse) while riding home in the dark. I have not been doored on the busy stretches nor, touch wood, been run over by a truck.

However today marks the first day of employment in which I had cheese on toast sandwiches for lunch and then cheese on toast again for dinner. Although, in my defence, it was a different kind of cheese for each meal.

Ah, employment. I can’t wait to sleep in properly on Saturday.

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Bad news Brompton

Good news! I have a job!

Bad news. No Brompton for me. No turkish green and flamingo pink Bad Taste Barbie Brompton. The approximately $2000 required to purchase such an object is not so much of a problem as the unresolved Australian dealership situation. It could be up to six months before I get my hands on my bicycle baby, so I won’t order it until the dealership stuff is sorted. And there is every chance by that time I will no longer think spending $2000 on a new bike is a good idea.

Barbie Brompton

So in the meantime I have gone out and bought pastel blue Barbie-coloured nail polish and for the first time in a decade, I’ve painted my nails. Just to see some shiny powder blue, more than anything. I have a colour craving.

Barbie Nails

Having all my nails done seems a bit much, though. I think in future I’ll just do my left index finger. Actually, I don’t know if that will make it more erotic or less.

IN OTHER NEWS, research into the world of romance fiction has commenced. I am attempting to read Marie Donovan’s Her Body of Work; that is, I am looking at words on a page in between uncontrollable fits of facepalming. At page 68, our artist heroine decides to have lunch with her BFF instead of having crazy-hot jungle sex with her male model. But lest you become concerned that her consumption of food may render her instantly fat and repulsive, her BFF feels the need to tell her: “… we’re eating at a low-fat, high-fiber, organic vegetarian cafe. Your body burns more calories digesting lunch than the food actually contains.”

Y HALLO THERE AUTHOR, SO NICE TO SEE YOU IN THIS BOOK. BTW DID YOU SEE WHERE OUR HEROINE’S BFF WENT? IT’S JUST THEY’RE MEANT TO BE HAVING LUNCH TOGETHER NOW. KTHXBAI!

This reaction is probably to be expected when you read Mills and Boon and James Wood’s How Fiction Works at the same time.

The thought occurs that reading M&B et al. in an electronic format is preferable, and there should be some sort of customisation option before you get to the story proper, where you can choose to replace words you object to (e.g. “shaft” or “column” in all instances where the reference is non-structural) with words you find less objectionable (e.g. “wang”).

WORD OF THE DAY

VITIATE:

to impair the quality of something, corrupt, debase or spoil.

Donovan’s word choices frequently vitiated the pleasure I derived from her erotic fiction.

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Cautionary Tales from a Sharehouse

THE CHARACTERS

Bazza – Neanderthal Man, Public Servant, Hero of the Order of the Monobrow. Sharehouse veteran.
Hippy Chick – Sort of like Neil from the Young Ones’ twin sister, but less assertive.
Overzealous Blonde – Independent Woman, tall, tanned and terrific. Refuses to take shit.
Cockroaches
Potential Housemates
Germans

Chapter 1 – Cockroaches are the Enemy

Bazza is upset about the cockroaches.

“I don’t understand. We did a cockroach bomb not two months ago, but they’re still here!”

Hippy Chick says she doesn’t want another cockroach bomb because, like, they’re not nice. Bazza’s solution – eliminate the food source.

The sun dawns bright and clear the next day on Bazza’s breadboard, covered in crumbs from dinner rolls. The change in human policy regarding roaches did not seem to register with their six-legged cohabitants. Midnight snacks continue as usual.

The following evening sees a cockroach the size of a small car enter the living room, possibly attracted by the sound of Bazza critiquing the 7.30 Report.

Overzealous Blonde dispatches the tourist with a sandal before retiring to bed.

“It’s the big ones I can’t handle,’ says Bazza. Not alpha-male material, Overzealous Blonde decides, proudly considering her independent-woman status. She leaves Hippy and Baz to stew in the post-kill tension that fills the faded pink lounge room.

The eternally tactful Hippy Chick, mindful and respectful of all living things, tries to approach the issue at hand with comments like, “Evolutionarily they are a huge success, and they seem to enjoy breadcrumbs…”

All this flies over Bazza’s head as he continues to watch obscure, meaningful television.

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Paolo Pucci, father of my Brompton

It is awfully hard work doing nothing. However I don’t mind hard work where there is no definite object of any kind. – Oscar Wilde

Job hunting and dating have a lot in common. Both activities involve two sides blatantly misrepresenting themselves, fluffing up their good points, glossing over their bad, faking overwhelming excitement at the possibility of hooking up together and making hollow declarations of hypothetical commitment to a lasting relationship whilst simultaneously trying not to look too desperate or needy. You’re the only company I want to work for, baby. Love me. Please.

And just as the majority of dating is done badly by a bunch of stupid people who lie to other stupid people to get them into bed and then complain loudly when the relationship mysteriously fails to last, so is employment too often a futile exercise in which employer and employee both attempt to take advantage of each other, only to split acrimoniously a short time later.

While I seem to have escaped the dating trap, I admit to having been just another stupid jerk when it comes to the job market. I have written job applications addressing selection criteria which made no sense for jobs that I didn’t really want, but which paid more money.

Then some shit went down at my work that was too awful for me to ignore, so I agonised and agonised and then finally quit; not because I had anywhere better to be, but because I couldn’t continue working where I was.

Now, almost a year since I quit my public service job (because it made me unhappy, wah), I am on the cusp of being employed again. Momentous news, Prue, you may yawn, but dear reader, underneath your cynicism you are actually correct. I will have you know that my standards are much higher now than they ever have been. I’ve seen things, done stuff, that you would never believe. I’ve spent a whole fucking year as a kept woman. I declared, with passion and absolute sincerity, that I would never work for any organisation ever again.

And since then I have discovered captioning.

Let me explain how captioning may actually be made of win.

It’s physical. Re-speaking tv into a computer to produce captions involves using your voice with great precision and control. That’s kind of cool.

It’s thinky. You’ve got to do reading and research in preparation so you can re-speak the news accurately.

It’s shift work. Shift loading = money. Odd hours are conducive to my lifestyle: I like op-shopping and I resent employment that keeps me from spending random weekdays scouring racks of unwanted junk. And working weekends opens up the possibility that my private fantasy of parenthood, in which both Husband and I working three days a week, with one day a week being magical two-parent quality time, might actually come true.

It’s pretty. Yeah, the office is pretty. I’m shallow. Deal with it.

It’s a perfect commute. Well, as close to a perfect commute as one can get in Sydney. Most of the route is dedicated cycle path. It’s 45 minutes at a leisurely pace on my girl/shopping 3-speed bike with front and back baskets. It’s quicker to cycle than any form of public transport, and there is undercover bike storage and showers at the office.

They like me. Because, amongst other things, I was able to caption the name “Paolo Pucci” correctly. It are nice to be liked, kids. I have missed it.

And finally: If I get this job, I am going to get a new bike (a Brompton, in pastel colours) to commute with and I will call it Pucci.

And that, my dears, is how captioning is made of win.

Fingers crossed!

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Cheap Tuesday

Monday’s poor cousin, Tuesday; the day of poor attendance, unsuspicious sick-days, apathy and lethargy. Nobody goes to see bands on Tuesday nights. Only die-hards go out drinking. The human race seems to collectively feel that Tuesday night is the night to stay home, watch TV and lounge around in bathrobes and fluffy slippers.

To counter this primal instinct or whatever it is, plays, Med Revues, cinemas and other cultural institutions often create “cheap Tuesday” promotions in a desperate attempt to get bums on seats and maybe even break even. But is appealing to economic rationality the right way to go about overcoming the Tuesday-itis that afflicts the masses? In this post, I take a look at this assumption about frugality and investigate some other possible reasons for poor Tuesday turn-outs.

1. Economic reasons
Salaried workers are usually paid in the later part of the week – by Tuesday, they simply may not have any money left to spend. People on welfare who report on Mondays might be paid on Tuesdays, but perhaps they have more important things to spent their pittance on than culture.

2. Social reasons
Chucking a sickie on Tuesday is perfect, because it’s not suspicious like the Monday or Friday sickie. And that project isn’t due until Friday, and your co-workers won’t get organised to start working on it until Wednesday afternoon at the earliest. So why leave the house at all?

3. Historical reasons
Not only did Constantinople fall on a Tuesday, but almost every other massacre, genocide and act of aggression by a state on its own people has historically occured on a Tuesday*. This isn’t a well-known fact, but the danger inherent in gathering in large crowds indoors on a certain day of the week does seem to be burnt deep into the human psyche. Probably for the best.

4. Psychological reasons
Yeah, well, you don’t want to be seen as “cheap”, do you? So you wait for a more expensive night to go out, for fear that people might think you’re poor.

5. Neurological reasons
A “Tuesday gene” has recently been discovered by scientists*. This gene has been shown to activate on a regular weekly cycle. When active, it depresses seratonin levels and induces a strong urge to stay at home, in bed, curled up under the doona*.

6. Conspiracy theory reasons
Tuesday is actually government brain-washing day, so the consumption of free-range culture that might displace or contradict freshly planted propaganda is discouraged as part of the brainwashing program. Thus poor Tuesday cultural consumption is conclusive proof that government brain-washing not only exists, but is very effective*.

*This is a groundless assertion.
*No such gene actually exists.
*Incidentally, as well as alerting killjoys to the jokes, footnotes are great for impressing people who actually got the joke with your astute use of literary devices. No kidding, I actually picked up my second husband this way.
*Sorry, just running a little experiment to see how many times I can get away with this.

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Winter again

It’s winter again, so I’m bleeding; my knuckles are cracked and scabbed like I’m a street-fighter with the pox. The chill follows me around, down the street, into the lees of buildings. It hangs around my ankles, waits for me in my bed, under the covers.

Winter tells me: you’re tired, you’re hungry, you need sugar, you need fat, you need to sleep until it reaches 25C outside, until your blankets get too hot. Sleep. Eat your chocolate. Find yourself a little warmth and hug it close. In the mornings, when you would rather escape the boiling fume cupboard his bedroom has become, roll back under the doona and be grateful for the heat, instead.

I still get cravings for icecream, even when I’m covered neck to toe by skirts and stockings, long sleeves, collars and scarves. I venture out into the winter sunshine and bask in its ray-gun glare. I eschew head coverings. I create static. I demand to visit beaches because I love seeing the pristine sand and the water and the rocks without people getting in the way of my view.

Winter makes the light numinous, quite unlike the harsh glare of summer light. The weather achieves a chilly sort of visual perfection; blue skies peppered with fluffy white clouds. Even the breezes seem crisp and formal. But it can’t keep it up for long. Dawdle in bed too long and risk missing the day altogether.

Cold fingers hurt less when they knit, in winter. The cold takes the ache of RSI away. Speed knitting makes me invincible.

I had boots, in Denmark. All-weather, all-terrain boots. But I left them there, so my Australian ankles must learn to live independently. Denmark. Frost on the ground, wind burning your face. Sydney is not as cold as Denmark, I know this, but my body tells me that right here, right now, it bloody well is.

Especially when I forget my jacket.

WORD OF THE DAY

NUMINOUS:

divine; suggestive of the existence or influence of a god.

I’m not sure if a functional atheist can actually use the word “numinous” to describe something, even figuratively.

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Bodum double-walled glasses, 50 cents each

Don’t say I didn’t warn you!

I am very much in love with the op-shop’s glass pricing policy. The Bodum double-walled glasses are only little, and little glasses cost 50 cents. Big glasses cost a dollar, probably. So I now own three little Bodum double-walled glasses for the princely sum of $1.50.

At first, I thought “ooh, science equipment”, but now I think “tea!”

Also from the same shop, a fold out cake stand. Tell me, does it not remind you of a cyberman? Or is my Doctor Who obsession showing again?

Husband is very fond of fruit cake, not so fond of peel, so every six months or so I gather together the ridiculous volume of ingredients it takes to make the above recipe (Australian Women’s Weekly Cakes and Slices Cookbook, p.69) and spend a whole day in and out of the kitchen, boiling fruit, letting it cool and then baking then cooling again. Luckily the result is worth it. I replace all the peel and rind and ridiculous ingredients with sweetened dried pineapple and voila! fruitcake. No need to decorate or anything! Just my sort of cake.

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